Kamloops mayor asks Trudeau for federal support for storm-drain, rail infrastructure

The mayor of Kamloops, B.C., made some lofty requests for federal funding when he met Justin Trudeau this week, saying he was “planting the seed” for improving infrastructure in the city.

Ken Christian sat down with the prime minister during Trudeau’s visit to the city on Wednesday — and though the meeting was just 15 minutes long, the mayor managed to get through a series of concerns around funding for storm drains and railway crossings.

“You know the age and the state of repair of infrastructure is such that the local taxpayer really can’t bear that,” Christian told Daybreak Kamloops host Shelley Joyce. “We need help from both the federal and provincial governments.”

In particular, the mayor pointed out the effects climate change has had on the city’s storm-water drainage system. He said the city is working to make the system more efficient for flooding and extreme rain events.

“I think that part of that cost should be shouldered by the federal government,” Christian said.

He also requested federal assistance for updates to decades-old major railroads that converge in Kamloops.

“When these were designed … we didn’t have the kinds of trains that you have now,” he said.

“These trains are much longer, much heavier and they’re going much slower through our city, and so that’s blocking crossings and that’s starting to interfere with commerce in the City of Kamloops.”

He also said the slow rail traffic is interfering with emergency services.

Christian said he realizes the solutions will be pricey, but said it shouldn’t be up to the taxpayers of Kamloops to build overpasses and flyovers.

“We’re providing a route for commodities from Western Canada coming through our city,” he said.

Though no hard promises were made, Christian said the prime minister responded positively and sympathetically, and referred him to federal transportation minister Marc Garneau for his railroad requests.

“Everybody says ‘did you leave with a cheque’ and you know, that’s not the way these things work,” he said. “But you know, it’s to plant the seed.”

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